For many years, I’ve wanted a proper, long Finnish mökki, or summer cabin, holiday. I had been at cabins before, either on own trips or at friends’, but it was always just a night or two, and I never felt like I really arrived. My main memories of those places are how sad I was that I had to leave! The Finnish summer cabin dream of nightless nights, BBQs with friends, berry picking, sauna and swimming at any time of day finally came true for me this year! And it was everything I wanted for it. I planned this meticulously with love and care (and many lists), so I’m happy to share my tips with you today! It’s not too late to book a Finnish summer cabin holiday yet!
WHEN TO BOOK YOUR CABIN
The Finnish summer holiday break is in July, and that’s when most people in Finland are off, and it’s the main holiday season. June to August are the perfect time for a Finnish summer cabin holiday experience, especially Midsummer is a magical time to spend at a cabin! September is a great month to enjoy the autumn foliage, and the spring celebrations such as Easter and Vappu are also popular cottage times.
BOOKING YOUR CABIN
For nice places in prime locations, you need to plan ahead. We booked through Lomarengas which was a great experience, the process was easy and straight forward, and it includes booking insurance. Other recommended places to book are Go Finland or also AirBnB, Nettimökki, the local platform Tori has offers as well directly through the owners, so also an option to consider, but remember to check liability and such there.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
PICK YOUR CABIN STYLE
The opportunities are endless, from a simple cottage without running water or electricity to a full-blown luxury villa, you can find anything. I personally love the charm of simplicity – we opted for a cabin without running water, but with electricity, which was a great compromise. Think of things like the kitchen appliances, if you want to go fishing, do you need to wash clothes? Also important is the exact location, especially if you have reduced mobility or travel with smaller children.
Getting to your cabin is quite important to think about, because it’s very likely you’ll need a car. Not just because cabins are by nature out in the sticks, but also to get groceries and all other supplies to location will require that. If you will need to rent a car it is an additional cost to consider that can be quite substantial. You can also take the train to the next larger town and rent a car from there. This saves you driving kilometres and often it’s cheaper than from the larger cities.
No Finnish summer cabin holiday experience is right without the sauna. Especially in a cabin without running water, the sauna will be the place to wash and “shower”. Older cabins might still have the sauna right next to the shore, which nowadays isn’t allowed to be built anymore, so it’s extra special! Important to consider is the type of sauna as well, the majority of cabins have a wood-fired sauna, smoke saunas are rarer and the electric saunas are usually found more often in apartment buildings and homes. Whatever it is, if you’re not super familiar with either, maybe it’s a good idea to read up on how to work the sauna properly before you travel.
LAKE VS SEASIDE?
Seaside = less mosquitoes, but risk of algae when swimming, water supply can be a bit annoying.
Lake = mosquitoes can drive you nuts, lakes are generally warmer to swim in and you have the freshwater supply right there. We were at the seaside in the Western archipelago and during our entire stay, we encountered maybe 3 mosquitoes. So it totally depends on your personal preference, but also of course on the season and the severity of the specific year you travel.
For me, it was quite important to have our own access to a beach or a pier. Of course, there are also cabins that are just in the forest, but if swimming and all that is important to you, make sure the type of access is right for you. Is a pier enough for you? Do you want to use a boat as well? Beach access is sometimes shared, so look out for that.
ACCESS TO CIVILISATION
Meaning: how far away is the next grocery store, the next town, restaurant or café. This is mainly important for groceries and other supplies, because it has a big impact on what you have to bring and how meticulously you need to plan food-wise, and how you want to fill your days – if you want to go on some little trips around the place or just stay in the cabin. Our cottage had a small village shop just a 10-minute drive away, and a bunch of bigger shops within half an hour by car, and a café with lovely terrace also nearby for a little afternoon outing.
Most places offer a cleaning service at the end of your stay, so think if you want to add that! I personally like to get it, it’s a holiday after all and a small luxury. It is usually expected required that you take our the bins and recycle properly and of course don’t leave a total mess behind.
Bring two sets so one is always dry and ready to go. Nothing worse than wearing damp swimwear! I just discovered though that nude swimming is the best. I really couldn’t be bothered with swimwear anymore.
Mosquito and tick repellant are essentials on any cabin trip, so something to soothe a sting. I brought a tick “management” set including things like antiseptic wipes, plasters and tick tweezers, and depending on where you go, check if it’s a good idea to get your FSME vaccine before going on a trip. The archipelago for example is tick kingdom and it’s imperative you’re prepared. Bring plenty of sunscreen as well – #SPFeveryday!
Pack wellies/rubber boots – I wore these all the time during berry picking and going about the forest. Keeps your ankles protected and your feet dry in the morning dew or after a rain shower. I love my Finnish Hai boots. Also, packing flipflops or waterproof slippers are essentials. My absolute faves are the Birkenstock Eva model, which was the best investment of the last year for me!
I recommend packing things that you don’t necessarily mind getting dirty, that are comfortable and ideally a fabric that doesn’t smell easily and dries quickly. So that in case you need to give it a wash you get it back quickly! Another rule of thumb for your Finnish summer cabin holiday is: always pack for colder moments. Even in the heat of Finnish summer (yes) it can get chilly, especially at the seaside when it gets windy, or during the nights. There’s nothing worse than using the outhouse in the night and being cold.
I lived in:
- Merino jumpsuit from Icebreaker
- Linen shorts
- T-shirts (super light merino, linen or organic cotton)
- Absolute faves (and little splurgy): Marimekko woolly socks. They are super warm but not too thick, so you can wear them with regular trainers and in slippers.
FOOD AND MEALS
PLANNING MEALS & IDEAS
Plan your food a bit, but keep it simple. You don’t want to waste time doing the dishes all too much, so it’s good to remember that when you plan your meals – anything too elaborate that requires many steps and bowls, for example, will annoy you later. One-pot dishes are great, something like Uunifetapasta works great on the grill in little aluminium trays! But if we’re honest, probably 90% of your meals will come off the bbq. So bring all your favourites.
Also remember to ask if there are any basic supplies such as olive oil, salt and pepper.
Tip: bring something ready to go for the first evening, after arriving and setting yourself up at the cabin it was really nice to have a potato salad ready and we just grilled some sausages for a quick but delicious dinner. I also brought a big batch of rice porridge with rhubarb compote for snacks and breakfast, as well as some dips and flatbreads, which came in great.
- Generally, bring as much food that makes you think you’ll be fine until next Midsummer. That should get you through 😉
- Check what’s available at the cottage and how it is equipped, so you know exactly what to bring and how to plan your meals.
- Bring containers to bring home lots of berries <3
Enjoy…the sound of the wind in the trees and don’t think of anything.